Alterations in MDCK and LLC-PK1 cells exposed to oxalate and calcium oxalate monohydrate crystals

R. L. Hackett, P. N. Shevock, S. R. Khan, W. C. De Bruijn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Structural analysis of human kidney stones reveals the presence of cellular membranes and other cell fragments. Experimentally, calcium oxalate crystallization is facilitated when an exogenous nephrotoxin is given with ethylene glycol, thus providing cellular degradation products to act as heterogenous nuclei. In this report, we tested whether oxalate alone could act as a cell toxin capable of producing damaged cells without the presence of an exogenous agent. Cultured LLC-PK1 and MDCK cells, when exposed to 1.0 mmol KOx, a concentration at the limit of metastability for calcium oxalate nucleation, were severely damaged as measured by specific lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) release in the spent media and by trypan blue exclusion. This effect was magnified by the addition of pre-formed calcium oxalate monohydrate crystals; the injury was significantly amplified when compared to exposure to oxalate alone. Scanning electron microscopy studies illustrated attachment of crystals to cells with loss of cell-to-cell and cell-to- substrate contact, as cells were released from the monolayer. In both oxalate and combined crystal-oxalate studies, more cells were released from the monolayer and exhibited considerably more damage when compared to controls. Oxalate, at the limit of metastability for calcium oxalate, is a cell toxin and can produce cellular degradation products. This effect is increased significantly by the addition of calcium oxalate monohydrate crystals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)587-596
Number of pages10
JournalScanning Microscopy
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • calcium oxalate
  • lactate dehydrogenase
  • LLC-PK
  • MDCK
  • scanning electron microscopy
  • trypan blue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Instrumentation


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